Q: Please tell me (in brief) your journey on discovering that you had the BRCA mutation, and can you tell us where you are at in the journey today?
I have never known a time in my life when breast cancer was not present. My family immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico just a few years before I was born. When I was a baby, my great-grandmother died of breast cancer. When I was a teenager, my grandmother died of breast cancer. My mother was diagnosed when I was in my early twenties. And in my thirties, I witnessed two of my aunts battle the disease. With this family history, I leapt at the chance to take a BRCA genetic test in 2013 when I first heard of it on the news. When my results came back positive for a BRCA2 mutation, I wasn't all that surprised. Armed with the knowledge that I had an 85% risk of developing breast cancer, I decided to undergo a risk-reducing surgery. In 2018, I underwent a preventive double mastectomy but ultimately, the surgery was not preventive after all. Routine testing of my removed breast tissue revealed that I unknowingly already had Stage 0 non-invasive breast cancer in one of my breasts, despite a recent negative mammogram and ultrasound. Yet because of my preventive action (genetic testing, surgery), I would not need to undergo any additional treatment. I had beaten breast cancer before I even knew I had it.